An Old Lady’s Poem

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?

What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?

A crabby old woman, not very wise,

uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try!”

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

and forever is losing a stocking or shoe…..

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill….

Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse; you’re not looking at me

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of ten.with a father and mother,

brothers and sisters, who love one another A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,

dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.

A bride soon at twenty — my heart gives a leap,

remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,

who need me to guide and a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,

but my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.

At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,

again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;

I look at the future, I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

and I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman/and nature is cruel;

Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,

and there is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,

and now and again, my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

and I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,

and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people, open and see,

not a crabby old woman; look closer, see ME!!

A poem from a nurse Vie Barlow 13/ 6/2007


Back in April I printed a poem entitled A Crabbit Old Woman which obviously touched your hearts. This week I received a response from a retired nurse in Wilmslow who worked in a residential care home some 25 years ago. It reads as follows:


Who is it you see when you’re looking at me

Am I just a nurse or a friend that you see?

Am I an ear when things don’t go right

Or am I an eye when you’re losing your sight?

Maybe a hand when your limbs move no more

Or a steadying arm when you’re feeling unsure

Another soft tongue to whisper your prayer

Or a shoulder to cry on who’ll always be there?

I’d like more time to just sit and talk

To bathe you and feed you and help you to walk

To hear of your life and the things you have done

Your childhood, your husband, your daughter your son.

But time is against us there’s so much to do

Patients too many and nurses so few.

I grieve when I see you so sad and alone

With no one to visit, no friends of your own.

I speak with compassion and feelings so sad

When I think of your life and the joy you once had.

I hope when I’m old that someone might be

As caring and loving and mindful of me.

So when you are sitting alone in your chair

Give a thought to the nurses who really do care.

When your body is tired and cannot go on

We’ll all shed a tear that a dear friend has gone.

While you sleep the long sleep without worry or care

There are other old people for whom we must care

So please understand if we hurry and fuss

So many of you and so few of us.

Nurses have feelings and when we must part

You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.

So when you speak to the good Lord above

Remember us nurses – remember our love.